As France lurches to the right, Cherry urges more action from UK on refugee children

SNP Justice spokesperson worries about refugee fallout from French lurch to the right

JOANNA CHERRY QC MP has said that the prospect of a far right or right-wing French government from next year’s French elections puts an extra impetus on the UK Government to fulfill its humanitarian obligations to refugees and their children. 

Cherry made the comments during a meeting of the SNP home affairs group at the party’s conference which was also attended by Angela Crawley MP for Lanark and Hamilton, Teresa Paicentini sociology professor from Glasgow University, Amal Azzudin human rights campaigner and Glasgow girl, Alison Phipps an academic and activist from the Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration (GRAM), Martha Spurrier director of Liberty and Stuart McDonald MP for Cumbernauld. 

The comments follow the rising electoral success of the far-right Front National (FN), which has a hard line on immigration and refugees, and the decline of the governing Parti Socialist (PS) who are led by the incumbent president Francois Hollande.

“The UK Government’s response to the refugee crisis has frankly not been up to standard and it is continuing to fail on all its obligations – both humanitarian and legal to the people who are in the Jungle at the moment.” Joanna Cherry

Cherry who is the SNP’s Westminster spokesperson on justice and home affairs said: “The UK Government’s response to the refugee crisis has frankly not been up to standard and it is continuing to fail on all its obligations – both humanitarian and legal to the people who are in the jungle [refugee camp in Calais] at the moment.

“I think the question was right. That there are elections around April next year in France. The prospect of a far-right victory or even an electoral win for the right will not make the situation in the jungle better.

“It puts into focus yet again how the UK Government needs to have a better response because the situation is grim and can get worse. This is what it means to respond to events and be a responsible government.”

Today (Saturday 15 October) the home secretary said the UK Government would make arrangements for unaccompanied children to be received by local councils in the UK. Additionally UK and French officials have begun registering unaccompanied children at the Calais jungle migrant camp as the camp goes through the process of demolishment. 

Aid agencies put the number of unaccompanied minors living at the camp at between 1,000 and 1,300, 95 percent of which are hoping to reach the UK.

According to charity Safe Passage the UK plans to take over 300 children, although it has said it has not seen operational plans detailing how the children will be moved.

The number of unaccompanied minors living at the camp at between 1,000 and 1,300.

Following the UK vote to leave the European Union (EU), the leader of the anti-immigrant party Marie Le Pen had congratulated the Leave campaign and Ukip for their victory saying that “The UK has given a shout for liberty and bravery, now it is time for our voice.” EU officials themselves including the EU president Donald Tusk have voiced their concerns of the knock on effect that Brexit has had to the politicals of many member states. 

It is feared that a victory for the Front National in the presidential elections or a strong showing against the two main parties would mean growing influence in how France deals with immigration, asylum and the refugee crisis. 

French polling agency Odoxa had a poll showing the personal approval rating of Marie Le Pen at 53 per cent compared to President Hollande’s at 47 per cent. 

A survey in June published by french daily Le Monde showed the French president polling at 14 per cent while likely Republican candidate and former president Nicolas Sarkozy scored 21 per cent. The survey which had a sample of 19,455 people had Front National party leader Marine Le Pen coming out on top with 28 per cent.

Picture from CommonSpace

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